sábado, diciembre 27, 2014

Una arquitectura de dos velocidades (McKinsey)

Un par de artículos publicados por McKinsey este mes de diciembre, (1 y 2, firmados por Oliver Bossert, Jürgen Laartz, y Tor Jakob Ramsøy), plantean una estrategia realista de adaptación en una empresa anterior al universo digital. Los autores proponen una estrategia de dos velocidades para sumar una capa digital a una empresa de corte tradicional. Si lo releemos un poco, podríamos concluír que el escenario descripto es común y mayoritario: las empresas nativas digitales son una minoría, aunque se hayan convertido en hegemónicas en muy pocos años. Excelente artículo para pensar estrategias.
El postulado de los autores es este:
Unlike enterprises that are born digital, traditional companies don’t have the luxury of starting with a clean slate; they must build an architecture designed for the digital enterprise on a legacy foundation. What’s more, while most companies would have been comfortable in the past going through a three- to five-year transformation and not implementing new features in the meantime, today’s highly competitive markets no longer allow players to alter architecture and business models sequentially. It is therefore important to realize that the transformation toward digital is a continuous process of delivering new functionality.
Para los autores, esta migración al mundo digital requiere hacerse fuertes en cuatro aspectos: Innovación en el desarrollo de productos y servicios, habilidad para atender múltiples canales, capacidad de análisis de datos y tendencias (big data), automatización y digitalización de procesos de negocios:
First, because the digital business model allows the creation—and shorter time to market—of digital products and services, companies need to become skilled at digital-product innovation that meets changing customer expectations. One such new offering for consumers is car-insurance policies enabled by geolocation-tracking technology, where the price of the policy depends on how much and how aggressively a person actually drives.
Second, companies need to provide a seamless multichannel (digital and physical) experience so consumers can move effortlessly from one channel to another. For example, many shoppers use smartphones to reserve a product online and pick it up in a store.
Third, companies should use big data and advanced analytics to better understand customer behavior. For example, gaining insight into customers’ buying habits—with their consent, of course—can lead to an improved customer experience and increased sales through more effective cross-selling.
Fourth, companies need to improve their capabilities in automating operations and digitizing business processes. This is important because it enables quicker response times to customers while cutting operating waste and costs.
El problema básico al que hay que encarar es el relacionado con la contradicción entre una empresa estable, con procesos de negocios manejados de manera conservadora, frente a la necesidad de ser flexible, ágil, rápido y variable en la atención de los nuevos procesos. Esto requiere otra manera de organizar las actividades de IT:
While a few players have overcome some of these hurdles, it is a big challenge for many IT executives to implement all four levers so customers can, for instance, purchase individually tailored products across multiple channels. One important reason is that the legacy IT architecture and organization, for example, which runs the supply-chain and operations systems responsible for executing online product orders, lacks the speed and flexibility needed in the digital marketplace.
Indeed, the ability to offer new products on a timely basis has become an important compe­t­itive factor; this might require weekly software releases for an e-commerce platform. That kind of speed can only be achieved with an inherently error-prone software-development approach of testing, failing, learning, adapting, and iterating rapidly. It’s hard to imagine that experimental approach applied to legacy sys­tems. Nor would it be appropriate, because the demand for perfection is far higher in key back-end legacy systems. Quality, measured by the number of IT system errors, and resilience, measured by the availability and stability of IT infrastructure services, comes at slow speed but is critical for risk- and regulatory-compliance management and for core transactional activities such as finance and online sales. In contrast, lower IT-system quality and resilience can be acceptable in customer-facing areas, for instance, when users participate in the testing of new software. For these reasons, many companies need an IT architecture that can operate at different speeds.
Los autores valúan como imprescindibles los dos tipos de procesos (tradicionales, difícilmente transformables, y digitales, con grandes requerimientos de agilidad, flexibilidad y rapidez de respuesta). En este marco, elaboran una serie de recomendaciones para mantener e interactuar entre ambos tipos de procesos y necesidades:
Manage a hybrid target architecture with very different platforms. Digital target architectures are heterogeneous, with trans­actional platforms managed for scalability and resilience coexisting alongside other systems optimized for customer experience. The transformation can be sustained only if a high-level target architecture and standards in critical areas such as cybersecurity are clearly described from the beginning. Without them, the transformation can be slowed down by the complexity of legacy and new hardware and application provisioning.
Plan for ongoing software delivery with blends of methodologies. There isn’t time to develop software by using a waterfall model and then separating the transformation into several long phases, as in traditional multi-year IT transformations. Nor is the solution to migrate all delivery to agile methodologies. The answer is to do both but blend the benefits of agile (iterative development, continuous delivery) into the waterfall model. Now, the software solution for each business challenge has to be constantly developed, tested, and implemented in an integrated fashion. This requires clear segregation of platforms into domains managed for fast iterative delivery (for example, for customer-experience applications) or for transactional integrity (for back-end transactional systems).
Develop the low-speed architecture, too. It’s important to establish a clear distinction between the two IT models from the beginning and not only focus on the fast-speed part but also develop the transactional back-end architecture. Those systems of record require rigorous development and testing methodologies and must be managed for resilience and scalability, with no compromises.
Build a new organization and governance model in parallel with the new technology. In the digital enterprise, business and IT work together in a new and integrated way, where boundaries between the two start to blur. This partnership has to be established during the transformation.
Change mind-sets. By transforming the architecture, technology can become a key fac­tor for a company’s competitiveness. Such a development requires increased management attention and usually a place on the board agenda. While IT efficiency clearly remains important, spending levels may well rise as companies transform IT from largely being a necessary expense to being a true business enabler. As such, expenses are managed as investments rather than just costs; this will often require a substantial mind-set shift for the organization.
Run waves of change in three parallel streams. In a two-speed transformation, it makes sense to have an implementation plan that runs in three parallel streams. The digital-transformation stream builds new functionality for the business, supported by the results of a short-term optimization stream that develops solutions that might not always be compliant with the target architecture (for example, using noncom­pliant interfaces). To ease the development of short-term measures and create a sustainable IT infrastructure, an architecture-transformation stream is the third necessary component.
Las técnicas descriptas pueden verse no sólo como aplicables a una estrategia de cambio hacia una economía digital, sino a cualquier escenario de una empresa grande, con una tradición establecida de procesos de negocios y soluciones tecnológicas establecidas pero anticuadas; la idea central que destaco de la visión de Bossert y otros es la de articular dos velocidades en el desarrollo de nuevos procesos y arquitecturas, dando a cada parte su importancia relativa, y manteniendo procedimientos diferenciados según de qué área se trate.
Recomiendo releer varias veces estos artículos, extrapolando cuando parezca necesario.

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